The Connection Between Stress and Your Job Performance | When it comes to performance on the job stress can have a tremendous impact, both positive and negative. In the right doses, a certain amount of stress can improve performance and job satisfaction. Too much stress, however, and performance plummets as health implications rise.
Some stress, in the right amounts, at the right times, is a good thing. Good stress can boost your immune system. A little stress while the flu bug is going around the office could work as well as vitamins for immune system to keep you from getting sick. Not getting sick improves work performance just by keeping you at work instead of miserable at home.
Good stress can increase your mental performance, similar to how exercise improves productivity and concentration. Low levels of stress may even temporarily improve memory and your ability to learn because of the chemicals released in the brain. These low-level stress events keep work interesting and your mind engaged.
In addition, good stress can build mental and emotional resilience. By working through small doses of stress at a time, you can build confidence and a sense of control in stressful situations. This sense of control increases your self-confidence in the next stressful situation that arises. The more resilient you become, the more you are able to thrive in increasingly stressful environments.
Good stress provides motivation to get the job done. Whether it’s the stress of a looming deadline or the stress of learning something new, the stress in the situation itself may provide exactly the push you need to finish on time and well. Some studies even say that a certain level of stress helps you find a flow in your work that you may not otherwise be able to access.
In the same way that low levels of intermittent stress can have positive effects on your life and work; ongoing, chronic stress, as well as more intense stress, can have negative impacts. Bad stress can lead to decreased job satisfaction and performance in a number of ways.
Bad stress decreases the efficiency of your immune system. People under high degrees of stress during times of seasonal flu and colds are more prone to getting sick and staying sick longer, than those experiencing intermittent, low-level stress. The rate of absenteeism is considerably higher among those dealing with chronic stress.
Bad stress also decreases mental performance, making it difficult to focus and be productive. Where good stress can wake you up, bad stress shuts down your mind and fogs your thinking, making even mundane tasks a challenge. Bad stress decreases mental and emotional resilience. Most people do not have the capacity to deal with intense stress for long periods of time and when exposed to these situations there is a sense of loss of control and decreased self-esteem. Not only is this demoralizing, but it can also have a negative impact on existing resilience.
Bad stress is demotivating. Employees under high levels of stress tend to complain more, have difficulty completing tasks, and are unmotivated to come to work. This lack of motivation often lends itself to isolation and lack of engagement, which only increases feelings of stress.
Whether good or bad, it’s important to be equipped to manage stress in the workplace. Thankfully, there are many options available to experiment with until you find what works best for you. Simple things like taking your breaks, going on a walk at lunch, or identifying and eliminating self-imposed stress can make a huge difference.
Stress can be a boon to your work performance or destroy it. It can improve productivity and creativity or leave you staring blankly at a screen with no idea what you’re trying to accomplish. Understanding that some stress can be helpful and learning to harness the positives and equip yourself against the negatives, can make the difference between loving your job and dread getting out of bed in the morning.